Friday, August 31, 2012

Zoners Nix Digital Billboard in Bethlehem

Holzinger cross-examines Meg Kyle
Following an August 30 hearing, Lamar Advertising's Meg Kyle was unable to persuade Bethlehem zoners to allow a digital billboard near Route 22, at 2224 Industrial Drive. Despite her promises to run the FBI's Most Wanted list and other public announcements, a unanimous board refused to see the light.

Testimony during the hearing established that the proposed billboard is approximately 500' away from another digital display, in violation of a zoning ordinance that requires a separation of 1000.'

Attorney Jim Holzinger, representing competitor Tri-Outdoor, provided zoners with caselaw in which courts have strictly interpreted ordinances establishing distances between billboards. He argued that Lamar would have to establish a hardship, no matter how many public service announcements are displayed.

Holzinger also complained that there already are two freestanding and four wall signs at the site. ZHB member Linda Shay Gardner questioned the relevance of other signs, to which Holzinger retorted, "We don't want drivers distracted."

Currently, there are six digital billboard in Bethlehem, owned by Adams Outdoor and Tri-Outdoor.

Kyle vowed to return with an application for a static billboard.

In other business, zoners gave Lehigh Valley Community Mental Health Centers (LVCMHC) a green light for administrative offices and a training facility at the former St. John's Capistrano Church, located at 902-910 E. 4th Street. President Melissa Martinez assured zoners that "no client services" will be provided at the site.

Established in 1996, LVCMHC has five locations, with its biggest located directly across the street from the church. Martinez estimates that 10-15 new jobs will be added to the 40-person employment roster at her company.

Realtor Connie Ulans told zoners that Bethlehem refuses to allow church demolitions, but they are actually "albatrosses" that are difficult to sell. She noted that the church is too large to convert to a house economically.

Rachel Haddad thought she was buying a two-unit dwelling
After approving LVCMHC's application, zoners also provided some relief to Rachel Haddad.

She purchased 1210 Linden Street as an investment property. It was listed as a two-unit building in county and multi-list records. She met the tenant of the upstairs apartment. She saw the separate kitchens, bathrooms and doors. But at closing, she learned for the first time that City records consider it a single family dwelling

Her Realtor, Tom Demshock, testified that the entire block was built by a developer who put up multi-family units. He also produced a City Directory establishing that, since at least 1949, there were two units at the site.

Attorney Thomas Schlegel, representing Haddad, argued that the expense of deconversion justified a variance. Haddad added that she will decline to purchase the property unless there are two units. "I would not want to eject a tenant who's been there for thirty years," she stated.

She won't have to because zoners unanimously agreed to a variance for a two-unit dwelling.

Zoners gave David Burian a green light for an enclosed porch at the rear of his residence on 1930 Fenway Avenue. They will permit retired educator George "Skip" John to build a porch roof at the rear of his 5 E. Taurus residence.  Finally, they allowed Richard and Elizabeth Elterich to construct an addition to their home at 2705 Lafayette Avenue.

Elizabeth sat through a number of hearings on two different nights before her case was heard. Zoners apologized for making her wait, but she responded, "It was a great civics lesson."


Anonymous said...

How is it that CACLV and it's director Mr Jennings played some role in the electric billboard on the Hill to Hill Bridge? Can anyone shed light on this?

Anonymous said...

Can't believe it. Taste and Safety First! Not in neighboring Allentown where city hall has signed a multi digital-sign (about 30 according to news accounts)contract to dot the scenic drive through the city without limits. The best placed sign is supposed to go at a highly congested corner where now courageous firefighters will compete with its distraction as they rush to help city residents.

Anonymous said...

It must be awkward to be cross examined only 11 inches away from your face.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you report on John Brew's victory? You posted on it previously?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I did not post about it bc i was not at that meeting. There was a meeting in Hnanover Tp that night, and I opted to go there. They only meet once in August.

There were two night of ZHB meetings last week, so I knew i could miss one and still get some good coverage.

I understand that it was a lengthy case and went on until nearly midnight.

I did snap a pic of the building and might post it, but I am very uncomfortable writing about a meeting unless I was there.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:27, Can you be more specific and tell me what you know? That would e a good starting point for me before I talk to Alan Jennings.

Anonymous said...

Barron is a joke. Look how he shifts focus from "we" to "they" and back to "we."

Anonymous said...

Mr Jennings apparently brokered some kind of deal or swap that led to the placement of the digital billboard on the bridge. Ive heard this caused some contraversity. I'm curious about the details.
I've also heard that as Allentown embraces them many cities are banning them.
They don't seem to fit well in the Christmad City.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I will try to learn the details. I heard today that the ZHB never acted on the digital billboard on the Hill to Hill bridge, and that may have been placed there bc another digital billboard was condemned for the casino. I am looking into all of this. Not sure what role Alan Jennings played, if any.

Anonymous said...

Jennings just doing a little behind the curtain shuffle for his buddies in the suits.
If it damages the look of Historic Bethlehem,well that's the cost of doing business for Allen Jennings.
Like supporting the NIZ and the Allentown water sell out. I mean sell off.

Anonymous said...

Let's have no criticism of Allen Jennings here please.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's Alan, not Allen. If you want to take him to task, get his name right.

Anonymous said...

Allentown will take all digital BBs. The mayor has them hooked up to his political strategy bunker so he can simulcast The Message.

Anonymous said...

Alan Jennings shouldn't be taken to task willeynilly but a fair and critical review of his public positions would de appropriate. Jennings is a public figure who has taken many positions lately ( sale of Allentown Water Works to name just one ) that don't square with his vigorously proclaimed principles.

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